The German Occupation produced a landscape of destruction in Poland, Ukraine, Belarus, and Lithuania; the loss of human life, cities in ruins, and burned villages testified to the brutality of war and genocide. The establishment of a new geopolitical order based on the Yalta Agreement drastically redefined Poland’s borders and led to new violence in Central and Eastern Europe. The aftermath of World War II in the region included the expansion of Soviet power, mass population transfers, continuing social disintegration, ongoing (para)military violence, and unending inter-ethnic conflicts. Moreover, following the defeat of Nazi Germany by the Soviet Army, police forces, secret service agents, and military troops worked diligently to (re)establish communist rule in the region.
Participants of the Lelewel Talk “Living with the Dead” will discuss, how old and new inhabitants in Poland, Lithuania, Belarus and Ukraine coped with the impact and legacies of wartime destruction. In many towns and villages, local inhabitants and newcomers settled in the houses of former neighbors and appropriated their possessions. Thus, „Living with the Dead“ is not simply a metaphor, but, in fact, a statement borne out by reality.
Questions to ponder include, among others: Which everyday strategies did peasants and urban dwellers develop to cope with the absence of often the entire Jewish community while living in former Jewish houses? How did Ukrainian migrants perceive the takeover of houses left by Polish families? How did the inhabitants of Belarusian towns and villages deal with the traces of the “Holocaust by bullets,” during which entire Jewish communities were annihilated not in remote places, but often literally in the midst of the settlement? And how did Jewish deportees from Lithuanian towns experience their return after the end of the war?
Violeta Davoliūtė (Vilnius University)
Andrzej Leder (Polish Academy of Sciences, Warsaw)
Anika Walke (Washington University in St. Louis)
Anna Wylegała (Polish Academy of Sciences, Warsaw)
Chair: Felix Ackermann (German Historical Institute Warsaw)
Violeta Davoliūtė is Professor at Vilnius University at the Institute of International Relations and Political Science, and Senior Researcher at the Lithuanian Cultural Research Institute. Recently, she was a Fellow at the Imre Kertész Kolleg in Jena (2018–2019). Focusing on the politics of memory, national identity and historical trauma, she has published the monograph The Making and Breaking of Soviet Lithuania: Memory and Modernity in the Wake of War (London 2013).
Andrzej Leder is Professor at the Institute of Philosophy and Sociology of the Polish Academy of Sciences. He works on political philosophy and philosophy of culture, applying phenomenological and psychoanalytical tools, especially Lacanian psychoanalysis. His work Prześniona rewolucja. Ćwiczenie z logiki historycznej published 2014 was broadly discussed in Poland. German Historical Institute Warsaw edited a German translation published in 2019 in Osnabrück.
Anika Walke is Associate Professor of History; Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies; and International and Area Studies at Washington University in St. Louis. Her current research looks at the long aftermath of the German occupation in post WWII Belarus. She published the monograph Pioneers and Partisans: An Oral History of Nazi Genocide in Belorussia (Oxford 2015).
Anna Wylegała is Assistant Professor at the Institute of Philosophy and Sociology of the Polish Academy of Sciences. Her research interests include collective and individual memory, biographical studies, problems of social identity and post-war changes in the social structure in Poland and Ukraine. She has authored the book Przesiedlenia a pamięć. Studium (nie)pamięci społecznej na przykładzie ukraińskiej Galicji i polskich "ziem odzyskanych" [Displacement and memory. The study of (lack of) collective memory on the basis of the Ukrainian Galicia and the Polish ”recovered territories”] (Toruń 2014).
Conference Hall of the German Historic Institute
Aleje Ujazdowskie 39